Trou­bled home in­vader to be sen­tenced

Con­victed on nine of 16 charges af­ter N.D.G. home invasion in 2011

Montreal Gazette - - Crime - PAUL CHERRY GAZETTE CRIME REPORTER

The strange case of an alarm com­pany em­ployee who car­ried out home in­va­sions at the homes of two cus­tomers en­ters the sen­tenc­ing stage Thurs­day.

In June, Do­minik An­geli Grou, 27, was con­victed on nine of the 16 charges he faced af­ter a March 16, 2011, home invasion in NotreDame-de-Grâce. An­geli Grou en­tered the home, which be­longed to a jew­eller, while pre­tend­ing to be col­lect­ing sig­na­tures for a pe­ti­tion.

Us­ing a pel­let gun, he threat­ened the home­owner, his girl­friend and adult son in an at­tempt to force the jew­eller to turn off the alarm at his West­mount store so he could rob it.

An­geli Grou bound the vic­tims and held them against their will, but never man­aged to rob the jew­elry store. He made the jew­eller drive to the store, but pan­icked and ul­ti­mately fled af­ter he saw a po­lice cruiser drive by.

He was ar­rested days later, when the Mon­treal po­lice linked him to a 2009 home invasion in Laval. Po­lice there were ze­ro­ing in on An­geli Grou at the same time.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the alarm com­pany had helped the po­lice con­nect the dots — as did An­geli Grou’s re­sem­blance to an ac­tor from the tele­vi­sion show Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment.

An­geli Grou has yet to be tried for the Laval home invasion but he ad­mit­ted to car­ry­ing out both while tes­ti­fy­ing at his trial in Mon­treal this year.

His de­fence was that he had slipped into an al­ter­nate re­al­ity while com­mit­ting both home in­va­sions. He told Que­bec Court Judge Louis Le­gault that, be­fore the home in­va­sions, he en­tered another world where he be­came Do­minik Two, a sec­ond per­son­al­ity who took or­ders from an imag­i­nary char­ac­ter who per­suaded him to steal cash and jew­elry in or­der to “gain points.”

Le­gault was pre­sented with con­flict­ing ex­pert opin­ions on whether An­geli Grou could be held crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble for his ac­tions. A psy­chi­a­trist for the prose­cu­tion be­lieved the ac­cused was fak­ing the symp­toms of men­tal ill­ness — likely from hav­ing wit­nessed an older rel­a­tive strug­gle with schizophre­nia for years.

Two psy­chi­a­trists who tes­ti­fied for the de­fence said they be­lieve An­geli Grou couldn’t tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween right and wrong when he car­ried out the home in­va­sions, but one cau­tioned she would have pre­ferred to have had more time to ex­am­ine him.

In the end, Le­gault said that, when faced with am­ple ev­i­dence that An­geli Grou spent weeks plan­ning the home invasion in N.D.G., his claims of slip­ping be­tween the real world and one he imag­ined made no sense.

“The truth is that he knows he never left the real world and can­not hide in some other world that he in­vented to serve his im­punity,” Le­gault said in June.

Seem­ingly ac­knowl­edg­ing that An­geli Grou’s prob­lems should be taken into ac­count even if they don’t jus­tify a men­tal-health de­fence, Le­gault asked de­fence lawyer Jean Louis Poulard and prose­cu­tor Maxime La­cour­sière to ne­go­ti­ate which of the 16 charges An­geli Grou should be found guilty of.

“Look, I know, I un­der­stand that this gen­tle­man is a frail man, but I could

“He knows he never left the real world and can­not hide in some other world that he in­vented.”

JUDGE LOUIS LE­GAULT

not con­clude on the bal­ance of prob­a­bil­i­ties the pres­ence of a men­tal dis­or­der,” Le­gault said. “But there are lim­its. He’s not the most in­fa­mous crim­i­nal we’ve had be­fore us.”

Ul­ti­mately, Le­gault found An­geli Grou guilty of break­ing and en­ter­ing, forcible con­fine­ment and rob­bery. Be­cause the first in­frac­tion was car­ried out within the con­text of a home invasion, it car­ries the pos­si­bil­ity of a life sen­tence.

Psy­chi­a­trist Marie-Frédérique Allard, a de­fence wit­ness, tes­ti­fied she be­lieves An­geli Grou suf­fers from Asperger syn­drome, a form of autism that left him iso­lated for much of his life. She said she be­lieves this was ac­com­pa­nied by an un­spec­i­fied dis­or­der with symp­toms re­sem­bling para­noid schizophre­nia.

Le­gault has been pre­sented with a por­trait of a trou­bled per­son who, as a boy, scared his fam­ily by dis­ap­pear­ing into a corn field for hours while they were on va­ca­tion in the Gaspé. He was also de­scribed as a teen loner who be­gan hav­ing re­la­tion­ships with women as a young adult, af­ter los­ing weight.

Wit­nesses told Le­gault that two women took ad­van­tage of An­geli Grou’s naiveté and drained him fi­nan­cially. Just be­fore he car­ried out the N.D.G. home invasion, he was turned down for debt con­sol­i­da­tion.

In re­cent years, judges have of­ten sen­tenced peo­ple con­victed of home in­va­sions to prison terms of roughly 10 years. The de­fence and the prose­cu­tion are ex­pected to make their sen­tenc­ing rec­om­men­da­tions to Le­gault Thurs­day.

pcherry@ mon­tre­al­gazette.com

DAVID LIV­INGSTON/ GETTY IM­AGES

Tony Hale is best known as a char­ac­ter ac­tor on the tele­vi­sion se­ries Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment and Veep.

SPVM

Do­minik An­geli Grou’s de­fence was that he had slipped into an al­ter­nate re­al­ity while com­mit­ting both home in­va­sions.

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